The Psychopath’s Brain

Most people find it hard to understand how a criminal and antisocial personalities, such as a serial killer, can occur in humans like us. As much as 25% of the inmate population, show characteristics of `sociopathy’. They lack the conscience and feelings for others, they take what they want, violate social norms and while showing not a hint of regret or guilt. They are unable to hold relationships with family, friends or partners. They will lie, cheat, steal and abuse and are usually manipulative and callous. They use charm, violence etc to get people to do what they want.

Unable to learn by punishment, when they find out their behaviour is not tolerated, they disguise it, cunningly. Fatal victims to sociopathy only reveal their true personality moments before death. Although you would think that a sociopath would have under average intelligence, this is not the case, for all have a normal or above normal rate of intelligence. Also they do not show any symptoms of brain disease. In some cases we find that sociopaths can be the leader of social groups, as they like the power.

The most scaring fact of all has to be that 1 and 4% of the population is a sociopath in a less or larger degree, they are considered to have hateful personalities or “socially obnoxious” behaviour. These characters are can occur these problems such as domestic violence, traffic offences, and severe marital difficulties. Their behaviour is often unpredictable and arrogant, not caring for others at all. Sociopathy is recognized at an early age, diagnosis around 15-16.

Useful content – Sociopath vs. Psychopath: What’s the Difference?

Children will torture animals at a young age, steal, vandalise and show a lot of aggression etc. they are not affected by extreme pain and often parents will give up making the situation worse. Only a small fraction of sociopaths develop into rapists, killers, cannibalism etc. The sociopathy disorder is also highly associated with drug abuse and alcoholism, and makes it worse in any aspect of their behaviour. ASP is common among drug offenders, child and women abusers, terrorists, gangsters, sadists etc; Leaders that can represent these are Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Idi Admin etc.

One question that comes up in mind is that `are sociopaths brains different to those who are classified as normal? 20 in 31 murderers have evidence of brain disease. Although it has always been controversial subject, researchers believe that there is a compelling case to prove this. The frontal lobe makes our behaviour stable and adequate social relations. All primates have this, humans the biggest of all. Social studies have shown that damage to the lobe can cause a major personality change; they can become violent, abusive, liars and irresponsible persons.

Normal humans learn at an early start what is considered to be antisocial behaviour, because our brains can associate fear of punishment. PET (positron emission tomography) have been used to corroborate the existence of neurological deflects in the frontal lobe in sociopaths. Using this technique some Americans found that 41 murderers have a decreased level of brain functioning in the prefrontal cortex, indicating violence. Dominique LaPierre compared 30 psychopaths to 30 non-psychopathic criminals, using tests that evaluate the function of two parts of the prefrontal cortex: the orbitiofrontal and the frontal ventromedial areas.

The results showed that “the psychopaths were significantly impaired on all the orbitiofrontal- ventromedial tasks”, but not in the function of other areas of the frontal cortex. Both results were remarkable in showing their lack of social and ethical judgment. There are a lot of factors involved in crime, brain function is just one of them. Studying these further will help us to understand their behaviour more, but the results are still preliminary and should not be used as a diagnosis at this present stage. There is evidence to show that sociopaths have a dysfunction of the brain, why and when this may occur is as yet unknown.

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